Husband's leukemia prompts wife to begin fundraising efforts.
When Summerfield's Julie Ciesielski began to get involved raising funds for leukemia research, she didn't have to question if donations make a difference.
The answer was standing next to her.
Her husband, Tom Ciesielski, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on June 5 and since his 51st birthday on June 30, he has taken a chemotherapy drug that effectively has controlled the disease.
Tom Ciesielski noted that the drug is less than 15 years old. Without effective research, he would have been looking at a much difference future.
"If these drugs weren't discovered, he would have a three- to seven-year life span," his wife said. "But there are drugs to treat it now. We learned that he had chronic rather than acute leukemia. If there was a good kind, chronic was better."
Research continues to be expensive.
"I take one pill a day," Tom Ciesielski said. "A 30-day prescription costs $10,500. They say most of that goes back into research."
He discovered his leukemia by chance when he went to an urgent care facility in May with an unrelated illness. However, he was short of breath most of the time when completing minor tasks or climbing stairs. He was sent for blood work.
"His white blood cell counts were in the mid 40,000s and his red blood counts were low," Julie Ciesielski said.
In June, he was informed he had leukemia.
"Our lives changed," Julie Ciesielski said. "Oh my gosh, my husband has a form of cancer. My first thought was 'How could I help?'"
Tom Ciesielski walked around "like a zombie" for a month and eventually lost 30 pounds. "Quite frankly, I didn't know what leukemia was."
His wife started researching the disease and found that like many forms of cancer, research dollars were scarce.
"I felt like I had to do something," she said. "There was nothing I could do to help him, so I put together a team for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night walk."
Julie Ciesielski and her team of six participated on Nov. 7 at Channelside in Tampa. So far, those who have donated through their participation in the walk have raised $3,050. Donations in honor of their participation in the event can be made through Dec. 31.
To donate toward leukemia cancer research through her effort, go to pages.lightthenight.org/sun/Tampa15/JCiesielski.
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